- Facebook and its other apps(Instagram and WhatsApp) will be operating under the Meta umbrella.
- Facebook is now working towards building a “metaverse”.
- People in a metaverse might use a headset to enter a virtual world connecting all sorts of digital environments.
On Thursday October 28, 2021, social networking giant Facebook changed its name and rebranding itself as Meta. But do you really know what “meta” means? Well, the word “meta” comes from the Greek word meaning “beyond”.
As a result of rebrand, Facebook and its other apps(Instagram and WhatsApp) will be operating under the Meta umbrella.
While unveiling the new brand, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said the company is broadening its reach beyond social media into areas like virtual reality (VR).
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook as a company has been looking at and reporting on its business as two different segments, one for its family of apps, and one for its work on future platforms, thus the decision to adopt a new company brand that will encompass everything Facebook does.
Facebook is now working towards building a “metaverse”. This is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.
“Over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards,” announced Zuckerberg.
Instead of being on a computer, people in a metaverse might use a headset to enter a virtual world connecting all sorts of digital environments.
It also will incorporate other aspects of online life such as shopping and social media, according to Victoria Petrock, an analyst who follows emerging technologies.
According to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s chief technology officer, the metaverse will need significant technological breakthroughs to happen.
He noted that the company was working on new versions of virtual reality and augmented reality hardware to make them smaller, less expensive and more immersive.
Working from home
It is hoped the virtual world could be used for practically anything from work, play and concerts, to socialising with friends and family.
The metaverse also could be a game-changer for the work-from-home shift amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of seeing co-workers on a video call grid, employees could join them in a virtual office.
Facebook has launched meeting software for companies, called Horizon Workrooms, to use with its Oculus VR headsets, though early reviews have not been great. The headsets cost $300 or more, putting the metaverse’s most cutting-edge experiences out of reach for many.
For those who can afford it, users would be able, through their avatars, to flit between virtual worlds created by different companies.
Facebook said it intends to start trading its shares under the new stock ticker MVRS from 1 December.
Over the recent past, Facebook has been faced by controversies ranging from hatespeech to misinformation.
Lawmakers and the public have criticized its Instagram photo-sharing app for hurting some teenagers’ self-esteem and the company has faced questions for its role in amplifying misinformation and stirring unrest with inflammatory content.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, leaked internal documents that showed how much the company knew about the harmful effects it was causing.
Corporate rebrands are rare but have precedent. They have generally been used to signal a company’s structural reorganization or to distance a company from a toxic reputation.
Therefore, the timing of the name change has a double advantage for Facebook.
It seems clear that Facebook wants to carry its business model, which is based on using personal data to sell targeted advertising, into the metaverse.
Speaking in a recent company earnings call, Zuckerberg noted that Ads are going to continue being an important part of the strategy across the social media parts of what Facebook do.
This, according to him, will probably be a meaningful part of the metaverse too.
However, leading the way into a virtual world could require even more personal data and offer greater potential for abuse and misinformation when Facebook hasn’t fixed the problems in its current platforms.